Hello, this series covers a total of 34 flights that I have flown and will be taking over the next few weeks. You are strongly recommended to the full introduction in Parts 1 or 3, I’ll just duplicate a small portion here as a reminder.
1. I intend to do this series semi-live; i.e. I shall type as I fly and publish the FR soon after arriving at a destination. I know I’m quite behind time now but I promise to keep the reports coming! (:
2. I will do away with my usual “timeline” style (see my past reports), otherwise it will take me much, much longer to get my reports ready.
3. Those square brackets in italics will give you an idea as to when exactly I was writing parts of the reports in this series, for example, I am now writing this report back in Singapore, but with 2 more flights left before I complete all the flights in this series.
4. And lastly for now, my apologies for not catching up on those previous series of mine. Was so super busy in school and also, busy preparing for this massive trip of mine. (:
A look again at the map and flights included in this series:
The return trip from Macau to Kaohsiung started on a Macau taxi. We took the cab from Macau tower to the airport and the ride took just about 10 minutes or so.
It's an efficient way to get to the airport. But other than that, there were also the public buses, hotel buses and casino buses that could get us to the airport. We chose the most convenient and hassle free way, though.
It was close to 5.30pm in the evening and the airport wasn't exactly very busy. Nevertheless, there were a lot of tour groups preparing to return home.
Apart from an Air Macau flight to Hanoi, Vietnam, all other flights that evening were either bound for Taiwan or China.
Check-in for our flight was scheduled to only begin in about half an hour after we arrived at the airport. I took the time to explore the airport departure area a little.
The departure check in hall is a long and wide corridor.
Individual airlines were assigned specific areas for check in. And all checked baggage were subjected to screening before passengers were allowed into the area with the queues for check in.
In view of many of the recent unfortunate attacks at various airports all around the world (i.e. BRU, PVG, IST), I'm beginning to really appreciate the necessity of all these additional security checkpoints. It adds a lot more trouble to air travel, but what else can we do? (Sigh)
On a slightly more relaxed tone, Macau Airport has set up a nice backdrop for travellers to take their final photographs before leaving Macau for home. In the photo below, however, this area was being utilised by passengers as a "luggage repacking zone."
In this other photo of the departure hall, you can see stairs and escalators leading to the restaurant area on Level 2. I didn't have the time to go upstairs, but you can at least spot McDonald's and McCafe in the photograph below.
I went back to meet my mom 20 minutes later as the check in queue for our flight began to form up.
At 6pm exactly (as you can see in the photo below), the counters were opened and we were waved over to queue for check in.
While we waited for the agent to scan our passports and print our boarding passes, I noticed that TransAsia was having quite an interesting promotion at that time, it works like this: Any passengers holding an international GE itinerary whose date of departure falls between 5 Apr and 30 Jun 2016, he/she will be able to "exchange" for a free ticket on any of GE's domestic flight.
Our itinerary, however, did not qualify since it was not under the booking class of V, W, L, Y, D, J or C. It doesn't matter a lot though, since we already enjoyed a different kind of privilege for the promotion tickets that we had – see the previous part for more elaboration about this. In general, we were entitled to using the Business class priority queue, a free lounge visit and priority baggage delivery on our flight from KHH to MFM.
Anyway, the check in agent printed out our boarding passes without hassle and informed us that our GE frequent flyer numbers have already been keyed into the system. (Not that I will ever be able redeem any flights with GE, though.)
There was still about 1.5h before our flight but we decided to just head airside and wait. Let's go in and check out MFM's departure airside area!
Security screening and passport controls were quick affairs. We were through in about 15 minutes. Once in the airside area, I saw many people gathered in front of the FIDS and also immediately sensed the significant noise level within the terminal. Hmm, looks like the airport was quite busy at that time.
There was nobody at the transit counters, since I presume there probably aren't many passengers who will transit via Macau, apart from those travelling with Air Macau. But if you look further, you'd be able to see quite a large crowd at the gate area.
I continued to walk around the airside area and realised that the views of the tarmac was actually quite good. I passed by my gate (Gate 3) and decided to go planespotting for a while so as to kill some waiting time.
Air Macau / A319 / B-MAK / NX830 MFM-DAD
China Eastern Airlines / A321 / B-2290 / MU2056 MFM-SHA
After the above two aircrafts heading to Vietnam and China, I realise that there weren't actually any other planes parked at the other gates. It didn't take me long to change my mind and decide to start working on my flight report instead (I was writing the BA15 report).
On a side note, you can also see that there were some power points available for use in the terminal at Macau. They were however very limited in quantity.
At about 6.45pm, the aircraft that will be flying us to Taiwan arrived at the gate. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a good angle to photograph the plane and in the end, I simply took multiple shots of it from different locations at the gate area.
This aircraft is registered as B-22312 and was slightly more than 9.5 years in age at the time of this flight. Interestingly, before TransAsia Airways began to operate this aircraft, it was flying for about 1.5 years with Sri Lankan Airlines.
As we approached the scheduled boarding time of 7.30pm, the gate lounge area around gate 3 began to get a little more crowded (and much more noisy)…
Soon after the boarding calls were made, we joined the queue and boarded the aircraft at 7.34pm.
Anyway, I liked it that the boarding process was carried out very orderly. Both on this flight and the other GE flight that I took to Macau a few days earlier.
The moment I stepped into the aircraft, I felt that it was so different from the previous one that I took a few days ago, despite the fact that I flew on GE A320s on both ways.
It almost felt like I was travelling with a different airline. I'm not sure what is everyone's opinion, but personally, I strongly value the consistency of an airline's hard product – even on Economy.
This is the Business Class cabin on B-22312.
And for Economy Class, these are the seats.
Allow me to place a photo of the Economy Class cabin of the previous TransAsia A320 that I flew on the way to Macau, just so to elaborate my point of how I felt these were products of two different airlines.
Do you agree with me?
Anyway, my complaints shall cease at this point since, at the very least, GE sent an aircraft with a better hard product on my return trip with them – I figured I should be grateful for that.
Boarding continued as we settled down into our seats.
I was seated at the middle seat on the right side of the cabin for this flight, since my mom preferred the aisle seat.
As usual, here are a few photos of the seat and cabin features.
Table, legroom (that was NOT my feet), head rest, seatbelt, seat pocket, safety information card and overhead panel.
Overhead luggage compartment.
Cabin lights at the side of the cabin.
Anyway, at about 7.43pm, boarding was almost completed and the FAs made a series of announcements.
Out of the three biggest Taiwanese airlines (EVA Air, China Airlines and TransAsia), it seems that GE is the only one with the policy of making all announcements in three languages. With the third language being Taiwanese Hokkien (台語 / 閩南語). It’s always interesting and cool to hear how the FAs pronounce the technical terms in a dialect, and in my opinion, the GE crews do it so well.
There were also no main screens on this aircraft, hence the air stewardess had to carry out the safety demonstration manually. During the demonstration, one fellow passenger decided that he needed to stand up to retrieve something from the overhead compartment, but the FA immediately stopped him and told him to sit down.
Cabin lights were turned darker for the night time take off from Macau. We pushed back early and the taxi to the runway took about 8 minutes.
(UTC+08:00, Macau time)
1946 Cabin Doors Closed 1954 Push Back 1957 Crew be Seated for Take Off 1958 Taxi to Runway 2004 Prepare for Take Off 2006 Take Off 2011 Seatbelt Signs Off
Immediately after the seatbelt signs were turned off, I went to the back of the aircraft to take a cabin shot and also to check out the washroom. There were a few empty seats at the back of the plane, but other than that, every other seat was occupied on this flight.
This is the button to press for flushing the toilet. While the English sign is concise, appropriate and clear enough, it isn’t actually a direct translation of the Chinese version, which says, “extremely strong suction, flush only after leaving the seat.”
I got back to my seat very quickly and meal service began at about 8.15pm. That’s super fast! (Just about 5 minutes after take off!)
I received my dinner at 8.18pm.
The cutlery pack that contained plastic fork, spoon, a toothpick, wet tissue and tissue paper.
Just checking out the expiry date and manufacturer of the wet tissue (for fun). They are made in Taiwan, and will expire in October 2016.
The meal consisted of pork slices with rice and vegetable. It wasn’t too bad and the serving size actually made me feel quite full.
The cake was so-so and if I’m not wrong, it was strawberry flavoured.
Oh, and the expiry date was the next day. (We flew on 17 May 2016.)
Straight after the cabin crews were done with distributing the meal, they went on to serve hot and cold drinks. I got myself a cup of oolong tea.
The meal also came with a small packaged cup of water. I finished everything quickly as I was quite hungry by that time.
After the meal service, our captain came on the PA to provide the flight information updates.
The flight was a really short one, clocking a flight time of just about 1 hour 20 minutes. Nonetheless, I was still able to get my MacBook out of my bag and work a little bit more on my BA15 flight report (which is Part 7 of this series).
Not long after, as expected, the seatbelt signs came back on and it was announced that we were already on our descent back into Taiwan.
(UTC+08:00, Kaohsiung time)
2051 Commencing Descent 2054 Safety Checks 2100 Prepare for Landing 2106 Touch Down 2113 Arrived at Gate
My seatmate was enthusiastically looking out of the window during our descent. This is a very good example showing how almost everyone is fascinated with the idea of flying, even up till today! (:
Here’s the announcement after landing.
We arrived more than 15 minutes early at our gate and everyone eagerly wanted to get out. I overheard that some passengers were rushing to catch the last few high speed trains back to their homes further up north in Taiwan, and a few more were going to hop on an overnight bus back to other cities as well. Thankfully, our journey (for now) ends in Kaohsiung and I’d soon be able to get a good sleep.
Anyway, this fellow passenger seated in front of me had boxes of egg tarts from the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery and other foods from Choi Heong Yuen Bakery (咀香園餅家).
Nonetheless, none of the above-mentioned brands is actually the most famous souvenir shop in Macau. Anyone wants to guess what’s the most famous brand among tourists in Macau? As I’m wrapping up this report now, I’m actually also munching on peanut candies bought from an outlet of this particular brand! :P
Anyway, we disembarked at about 9.20pm and I tried to get another photo of the aircraft while avoiding the reflections on the windows. The end product wasn’t too bad, I guess.
Immigration was once again a very efficient process here at KHH. It’s also because I am eligible to use the Speedy Immigration Inspection Counter since I applied for Taiwan’s frequent visitor pass.
Within 5 minutes, we were already at the carousel waiting for our bags.
Here’s a quick look at all the flights arriving at about 9 to 11pm that night. This airport closes at night, so these were actually the last arrivals for that day.
We collected our bag at 9.31pm and then quickly headed out to catch a taxi. By 10.30pm, I was already repacking my luggage at my mom’s place, preparing for our US trip two days later.
Thanks for joining me on this short hop and I’ll be back for more! (:
[Signing off from Singapore]
(To be continued)
This report was completed on 2 Jul 2016 at 4.16pm (UTC+08:00).
TransAsia Airways: As compared to the outbound flight’s A320, this one was much nicer in terms of the cabin finishes and seat design. The cabin crews were still extremely professional, akin to the outbound flight, and possibly even friendlier than some FAs you will encounter on EVA Air / China Airlines. There was still no IFE on this flight, and this will soon become a norm on ALL TransAsia flights as the airline phase out its A330s. Last but not least, the meal was very decent and acceptable, especially so since this was a very short regional flight.
MFM: The departure experience from MFM was acceptable. While there was nothing truly impressive about the airport, it was at least clean and relatively efficient in terms of the clearance of departure formalities. Nonetheless, the airport seemed extremely noisy and the noise level around the gate areas got quite annoying after a while. (There isn’t any appropriate category to fault the airport on this, so I will deduct a few points from “services” just to reflect the minor complaints I have for MFM.)
KHH: Five minutes from getting out of the aircraft to clearing immigration – what more to say about the airport’s efficiency? Also, we didn’t wait very long before our bags appeared on the carousels. So, in general, a good arrival experience at KHH.
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